6 Things Attorneys Should Know for a Job Search Today

By Robert Half on December 2, 2022 at 9:36pm

What is the most important thing an attorney candidate should know when conducting a job search today?

Let’s face it, even in today’s candidate-driven market, looking for a job is hard work. No matter your profession, the search for your next opportunity requires a little courage, a lot of perseverance, and as many valuable tips as you can find that are specific to the trends in your industry. So what are the most important factors attorney candidates should consider when conducting a job search today?

We asked Robert Half’s legal recruiters for their best advice on this question. From diversifying their background to being deliberate about their practice area focus, here are six important things lawyers should think about when looking for their next role in today's job market.

  1. Diversify your background
  2. Stay open-minded
  3. Know exactly what you want to ask for
  4. Know your place in the market
  5. Mentors can help you with your job search
  6. Be deliberate about practice area focus

1. Diversify your background

The most successful candidates have well-rounded backgrounds. You will be more marketable if you have diversified experience ― explore new industries, consider pivoting from litigation to transactional law, step into management, and learn about new technology, etc. If you're currently employed, consider asking your boss for new challenges or additional training ― maximize your current opportunity and use your network as a resource. Invest in your growth and development, and it will pay dividends.

Jess Duong, practice director, Minneapolis, Minn.

2. Stay open-minded

For many attorneys, job postings and descriptions can be daunting and discouraging as these often read as the "wish list" of experience and skills that very few candidates in the market possess. I highly encourage attorney candidates to remain open-minded and confident in their ability to learn throughout the job search. Maybe it's not the ideal firm size, or the exact practice area or caseload you aimed for, or maybe you only have 3 of the 5 skills required but if you are interested, you should go for it. Be open to the conversation because you never know what team you'll hit it off with, what experience will become invaluable, and in which direction one interview can take your career. Stay open-minded and inclusive as you navigate a transition or new role!

Nur Sher, practice director, Los Angeles, Calif.

3. Know exactly what you want to ask for

Attorneys should know exactly what they want to ask for because, in this candidate-driven market, they could get it.

Research the full compensation and benefits that you are looking for at the start of your job search to ensure it aligns with the hiring firm's package, versus waiting until a final interview. Attorneys today may want different benefits than even just a few years ago. These can include flexible work schedules, remote work flexibility, paternity leave, and other perks.

Knowing exactly what you want early on can help rule out prospective firms where you won't ultimately accept a position, saving you a lot of time and effort.

Teri Herbstman Appel, vice president, Chicago, Ill.

4. Know your place in the market 

The most important thing for an attorney to know when conducting a job search in the market today is to know their place in the market. Make sure the years of experience, practice area, and salary requirements are in line with the market. Many candidates get frustrated with job searches because they are outpricing themselves in the current environment, which results in making their job search much more challenging.

A valuable tool for this is the Robert Half Salary Guide! It provides average starting salaries by experience level and location is a great resource for insight on salary trends.

Meredith Mancini, talent director, Chicago, Ill.

5. Mentors can help you with your job search

While networking is important in your job search, having a mentor can be just as valuable. Mentors can be professors or fellow legal professionals that are already practicing. They can help prepare you for interviewing, offer sound advice, in-depth knowledge of the current legal market, as well as tips on salary negotiations.

Jamy J. Sullivan, JD, Executive Director, Dallas, Texas

6. Be deliberate about practice area focus

When an attorney is searching for a job, they should be clear about which practice area they would like to focus on, and their resume should clearly reflect that direction. There are usually two traditional career paths for attorneys, either in-house or at a law firm. If they prefer a law firm, they should communicate where they would like to gain experience, which could be broadly corporate or litigation and subsets of these practice areas. If an attorney prefers to take an in-house career path, they should be specific about whether they want to be in general corporate, contracts, real estate, compliance, employment law role, or take a litigation management route. Their conversations with potential employers should also reflect their career goals.

Mala Saraogi, senior vice president and director of permanent services, Denver, Colo.

 

Recruiter's headshot photos in a collage image

Robert Half recruiters (top row, from left): Jess Duong, Nur Sher and Teri Herbstman Appel; (bottom row, from left): Jamy J. Sullivan, JD, Meredith Mancini and Mala Saraogi.

Looking for legal talent?

Robert Half is featured on Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms (#1). For details on how our specialized recruiters can help you find skilled candidates for legal jobs, visit this page.

 

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